Alcohol Concern, a charity dedicated to fighting the evils of the demon drink, have come up with some proposals. Among other things, they would like to see the prosecution of parents who give alcohol to their children, even with a meal at home.
I would argue the other way. Perhaps introducing children to alcohol early, and in a responsible manner, would demystify alcohol in the minds of the chidren. Having a small amount of alcohol with a meal at home with one’s parents would remove part of the ‘rebellious’ aspect from the thing.
Because one may not legally purchase alcohol before the age of 18, many children unsurprisingly regard it as a mark of adulthood, and feel the need to show that they are grown up by drinking irresponsibly well before that age. That also explains the unedifying sight, in market towns up and down the land, of comatose youngsters on their eighteenth birthdays, collapsed on the floors of pubs, and being cheered by all and sundry. What does this tradition tell us? It tells us that for many, there is something mystical about alcohol, some inexplicable feeling of achievement for being deemed worthy to be able finally to partake of this great wonder-working potion. But why should that be? What is the big deal about alcohol?
In all the countries in which I have lived, I have never come across anywhere else like England with such an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. I marvel at the way this country deals with alcohol. By it, many measure their worth, and only with it, would many even dare to participate in social situations. That is what Alcohol Concern should be addressing. Why are the English this way about alcohol? Perhaps people need to be taught that alcohol is not such a big deal after all. Perhaps introducing children responsibly to the more civilised aspects of alcohol consumption will enable them to stand firm against its common corrupting influences. Let children know that alcohol is not a big deal, and that it is not a magic potion. Then they will be able to deal sensibly with it.